At UT, applying to graduate is a standard rite of passage. Typically, students are allowed to apply for graduation toward the beginning of their last semester. During this process, a final degree check is conducted, and then, if they are cleared, the student is added to their college’s graduation list.
The current graduation application process usually consists of an online application, which is followed by an official response that accepts or denies each graduation request. This process varies based on college or major, but most graduating students must declare their intention to graduate before they can officially receive their diploma.
Unfortunately, many students don’t even know about this process until too late in their college career.
“I didn’t know there was an application to graduate,” public relations junior Emily Huynh said.
Huynh wasn’t made aware of the graduation process by her adviser, although she is rapidly approaching senior year.
“Isn’t that what a counselor should do?” Huynh said.
Although UT is not the only college that requires students to apply to graduate, the current system is flawed. There are more effective ways for UT to raise their four-year graduation rate that don’t include students applying to graduate in their last semester.
UT should require students to meet with their advisers at the end of their junior year or two semesters before they plan to graduate to conduct a thorough degree check. Additionally, they should have a final meeting with their adviser during their second to last semester where they can submit their graduation request. This process would provide more clarity and ensure students know exactly what steps they need to take to graduate on time.
As of now, a degree check and meeting with your adviser is optional. Some students don’t realize they’re missing necessary classes, registered for the wrong requirements or have other graduation-related issues until it’s too late. For the College of Liberal Arts, the application to graduate opens after the add-drop deadline and closes on April 6. If a student who applies in March realizes they didn’t meet graduation requirements, it may be too late.
By moving up the degree check timeline by a semester and implementing another check, students would better understand what they need in order to graduate and could avoid last-minute changes or panics when hoping to get their degree the following semester.
Public relations senior Rachel Walters applied to graduate this semester and, in part due to her positive relationship with her adviser, feels that the existing system is adequate for graduating students.
“Basically, my adviser is amazing … he just had taken really good care of me,” Walters said. “He filed all (my graduation documents) on his last day (of work).”
Although this system works for some students, not all have personal relationships with their advisers. Some students go through multiple advisers or don’t consult with them at all when registering for classes or navigating the graduation process.
Having mandatory meetings toward the end of junior year and the semester before graduation ensures that students have another set of eyes on their schedule, and lets them know without a doubt that they’re eligible to graduate. With an earlier timeline and more mandatory checkpoints, UT can ensure students are on track to graduate within four years and save students from last-minute confusion or issues.
Goodrich is a government and African and African Diaspora Studies senior from Dallas.